Obesity takes a huge toll on the body and put you at risk of serious health conditions, ranging from sleep apnea to diabetes to stroke. Losing weight can reverse many of the problems that obesity creates.
Obesity, Heart Disease, and Stroke
Obesity is linked to cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, in 70 percent of diagnosed cases. Hardening of the arteries, also called atherosclerosis, is 10 times more frequent in people who are obese. Heart-related issues connected to obesity include:
Studies have shown that the higher your body mass index (BMI), the higher the levels of total cholesterol; this is particularly true in women, but is also the case for men. Cholesterol levels rise even more for people who carry most of their excess weight in their belly. Eating an unhealthy diet leads to obesity and often high cholesterol levels.Stroke. Too much fat in the body, especially saturated fat and cholesterol, builds up plaque in the arteries and can lead to stroke.
Obesity doubles the risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Also related to heart disease, hypertension occurs in 26 percent of obese individuals. Obesity creates more cells and tissues that need blood and oxygen — and your heart and circulatory system must work harder to deliver them. This extra effort can increase blood pressure, leading to hypertension. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy diet can undo much of the damage caused by these conditions.
Obesity is strongly correlated with diabetes. Nearly 90 percent of type 2 diabetics are overweight, as too much weight can lead to insulin resistance. Losing weight can help to manage and even prevent type 2 diabetes by making it easier for the body to use the insulin that it produces and regulate blood glucose levels
Research shows strong evidence of a relationship between some cancers and obesity, such as colon cancer, endometrial cancer, and breast cancer. As many as 51 percent of new cancer cases diagnosed in women are linked to obesity; the number is 14 percent for men. Although it's not understood how obesity increases the risk of developing certain cancers, evidence does show that losing weight can help to prevent many cancers.
This is a dangerous condition that causes breathing to temporarily stop during sleep. A big risk factor for sleep apnea is obesity, as excess weight taxes the respiratory system and makes breathing more difficult. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can cut down on pauses in breathing during sleep.
Arthritis risk increases as much as 13 percent with every two pounds gained. The increase of developing osteoarthritis is increased four times for women who are overweight; men who are overweight have five times the risk. Obesity places excess strain on the joints, leading to additional wear and tear and ultimately osteoarthritis.
As many as 30 percent of all gallbladder surgeries are attributed to obesity. Obesity "causes disruption in the whole gallbladder," says White, by forcing it to work harder to process more fat. Obesity also leads to excess cholesterol, which boosts the risk for gallstones. Less weight puts less strain on the gallbladder.
Fatty liver disease.
The specific connection between obesity and fatty liver disease isn't really understood, so it's hard to know how many cases are linked to obesity. But those with diabetes and pre-diabetics are at an increased risk of fatty liver disease. Maintaining a healthy body weight can manage blood sugar for those with diabetes and also reduce fat build-up in the liver.
Overeating doesn’t just contribute to obesity, but also to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), says White. Excess weight increases pressure inside the stomach, which can push acids up into the esophagus and worsen GERD symptoms — although it doesn't actually cause GERD. Losing weight can reduce pressure and minimize GERD symptoms.
Gout is a condition in which uric acid (waste that the body produces) builds up in the joints and tissues in the body. Obesity increases the risk of gout simply because there are more cells and tissues producing uric acid, which can lead to the build-up. Getting rid of excess weight can reduce uric acid production and manage gout.
Depressed individuals are at double the risk of obesity of their non-depressed peers. People who are overweight or obese can have self-esteem issues, says White. They may feel bad about themselves for overeating and ashamed or embarrassed, all leading to depression. Getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and losing weight can ease symptoms of depression.
Losing just a few pounds — even 5 percent of your body weight — can have a significant impact on your health by reducing your risk of developing many of these diseases.